The disciples made a similar mistake when they saw Jesus walking by their boat across the lake. I admit it must have been disturbing. It had been quite a day. Jesus had fed 5,000 men, plus women and children from nothing but five loaves and two fish. Afterward, He stayed behind to say goodbye to the people and spend some much needed time in prayer. Jesus sent the disciples ahead saying, “I’ll meet you in Bethsaida.”
They were tired, it was night; they were in the middle of the lake rowing against the wind. Who wouldn’t freak out to see somebody walking past the boat on the water? But the disciples were wrong about who it was.
“… they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:47-52, see also Matthew 14).
First of all, the disciples were afraid because they thought Jesus was a ghost. He was doing something they’d never seen a person do. They assumed He was there to harm them, just like the bird in my yard. Sometimes I make the same mistake when Jesus comes to my rescue in a way I don’t expect. Especially when I’m in the middle of a crisis.When He appears unexpectedly I panic.
Secondly, they were amazed because their hearts were hard. They had just witnessed a miraculous food-fest. Jesus had empowered the disciples to drive out demons, heal people, and preach the Good News! And yet when the Lord over demons, sickness, sin, and hunger walked on the water to calm their storm, they were shocked.
I can’t fault them. Even though I’ve seen God drive the enemy out, heal people, bring joyful repentance, and feed the hungry, I’m still amazed when He shows up in an unexpected way. I still lack understanding, and my heart is still hardened.
This year, as Easter draws near, I want to be expectant and aware of the many ways Jesus comes to my rescue – whether in a child’s antics, a sermon, a song, a verse, or on the ocean waves. How wonderful that instead of lecturing His disciples for their fear, Jesus’ first words to them were, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” His words to us are still the same. Praise God for His patient love!
Lint Removed: A Hard Heart
Cleaning Process: Recognizing Jesus as Lord of All